Dividing hosta is the easiest when they are first coming up in the spring. They have all summer to "recover" from being divided. It's the easiest time because the hosta are not leafed out, which makes shoveling around them and moving them harder. You can divide hosta any time of year, however, my preference is spring or fall. If you do it during the summer you need lots of water and even then they will usually look pretty sad. So as the pips (or nubs, as I like to call them) are first showing in spring, it's time to get out your tools to divide. Hosta do not need to be divided. The only time it's necessary to divide them is if they start to develop fairy ring (where the middle dies out) or if they are getting too big for the space you have them in.
Step 1: Get the Right Tools
- Garden Fork (optional)
- Bread Knife or other sharp knife (optional)
I prefer to use a strong garden fork, as seen in the picture, and a deep shovel. The garden fork helps you lift up the plant but not take all the soil with you. The deep shovel helps you get under the roots of the hosta. These are my preferred tools, but if all you have is a garden spade you'll still be fine.
Step 2: Decide Where You Are Going to Divide
- Locate the hosta you want to divide, and find a spot where there are a couple of eyes (eyes are each pip coming out of the ground) can be divided off of the plant. You do not want to go to close to the edge or you may take off an eye but no roots.
- Place your shovel in the area where you want to make the division.
- Press down on your shovel with your foot firmly, sometimes I give the shovel some good whacks with my foot. Going through hosta tissue is not easy.
- You should be able to feel when you have made it all the way through the plant.
Step 3: Dig Under the Division With Your Shovel
Now dig around the the division with your shovel to help loosen it from the ground.
Step 4: Lift the Division Out of the Ground
This is where I use a garden fork to lift the division out of the ground. It helps keep some of the dirt in the ground, but you can also use a shovel for this.
Step 5: Your Division
- Shake most of the dirt off your division back into the hole, if you need to, add more dirt to the hole you left.
- Your division should look similar to the one above.
Step 6: Make More Divisions
If you want, you can now make even more divisions from the division you dug up. Simply take a sharp knife and make sure to have an eye and roots for every division. You can also do this with a shovel.
Step 7: What to Do With Your Division(s)
- You can either plant the division(s) in another spot in your garden.
- Pot up the division(s) if you are not sure where to put them just yet.
- Or give to friends, that is why they call the hosta the friendship plant. Friends give Friends hostas!
Step 8: If You Divide Fully Leafed Out Plant
If your plant happens to be fully leafed out. The easiest way to divide is to tie or tape the leaves up and then dig up the entire plant. Then you can cut off your division, and replant the plant and the division. Keep the tape or string on the plant for at least a week and water well. This will help it look better and the leaves not weep and die off.